Fantastic Film Festival 2024: ten top picks

The Fantastic Film Festival returns this week, bringing the best of cult, arthouse and genre cinema to screens in Sydney and Melbourne.
A still from Mami Wata. Image: CAA Media Finance/alief SAS/Dekanalog/Aya Films/Trigon-film

The Fantastic Film Festival Australia starts this week and runs from 17 April until 10 May, across select cinemas – the Lido, the Ritz, and Thornbury Picture House – in Melbourne and Sydney.

The FFFA, specialising in cult, genre, arthouse and alternative cinema, is in its fifth year running and will once again bring the best of weird cinema from all over the world to Australian screens.

Here are our top picks of the 2024 program.

Cannibal Mukbang

Shy and looking for love, Mark becomes smitten with the outgoing and mysterious Ash, who, much to his surprise, reciprocates the attraction. As his feelings for her intensify, so does his unexpected submersion into Ash’s biggest fixation: the wild world of mukbanging. And with it, lots of bloodshed.

Mars Express

In the 23rd century, a private detective and her android partner are hired by a wealthy businessman to hunt down an infamous cybernetics hacker. On Mars, they venture deep into the heart of the planet’s capital, discovering a web of intrigue involving brain farms, corruption and a girl’s disappearance that may reveal a truth about robots that could revolutionise society.


As a child, Douglas was abused by a violent father who literally threw him to the dogs. Instead of attacking him, the dogs protected him. Traumatised, and leading a life on the margins of society, completely isolated except for the company of his dogs, Douglas descends into murderous madness.

Metal Skin (retrospective)

In-person Q&A with director Geoffrey Wright on Wednesday 24 April, 6.30pm at Lido Cinemas and Friday 26 April, 6.30pm at Ritz Cinemas.

Joe, a timid teenager grappling with the challenges of caring for his ailing father, finds solace in his obsession with petrol-guzzling muscle cars. Joe worships his best mate and fellow gearhead Dazey (a young Ben Mendelsohn), whose womanising ways have strained his romance with Roslyn. Joe’s bleak worldview begins to expand when he falls for the devil-worshipping mystic Savina. But it is Dazey that Savina truly desires, entwining the fates of all four on a journey destined for tragedy.

The Childe

In a bid to find money for his mother’s surgery, Marco, an amateur boxer living on the dark, grimy streets of the Philippines, searches for his estranged Korean father. When he’s visited by a group of mysterious guests claiming to be his father’s associates, Marco knows something is off. Before he knows it, he’s whisked away on a one-way flight to Korea with an eccentric assassin with Machiavellian objectives on his tail, leaving a trail of violence in his wake.

Once Within A Time

After ten years, celebrated auteur Godfrey Reggio (Koyaanisqatsi) returns with a bold new experimentation unlike anything we’ve seen in his already daring career: a bardic fairy tale about the end of the world and the beginning of a new one, tinged with apocalyptic comedy, rapturous cinematography, unforgettable vistas, and the innocence and hopes of a new generation.

The Primevals

A film more than 50 years in the making, The Primevals is the culmination of the life’s work of the legendary Oscar-nominated visual effect artist David Allen (Howling, Young Sherlock, Ghostbusters II, Willow). After budgetary woes and David’s tragic early passing at just 54, the film sat unfinished for decades – until now. A glorious tribute to the classic films of Ray Harryhausen and 70s special effects, blending stop motion animation with live action, The Primevals is a true time capsule, and a remarkably eye-popping adventure in its own right.

The Naked Gun (nude screening)

FFFA’s nude screening event returns with a very special presentation of the aptly named classic, The Naked Gun

Walk in, de-robe, and enjoy. Leslie Nielson stars as the uncompromisingly incompetent Lieutenant Frank Drebin. When investigating the murder of his partner, Derbin uncovers that respected businessman Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montalban) may be planning to brainwash a baseball player with a mind-control device to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II.

Mami Wata

In the oceanside village of Iyi, the revered Mama Efe acts as an intermediary between the people and the all-powerful water deity Mami Wata. When a young boy is lost to a virus, Efe’s devoted daughter Zinwe and skeptical protégé Prisca warn Efe about unrest among the villagers. With the sudden arrival of a mysterious rebel deserter named Jasper, a conflict erupts, leading to a violent clash of ideologies and a crisis of faith for the people of Iyi.

Enter the Void (with live score)

Oscar is an American drug dealer living with his sister in Japan. Killed during a drug bust, Oscar’s spirit enters the astral plane. His journey through life after death takes him back to the past and through the present neon club scene of Tokyo after dark.

The film is accompanied by an adaptation of the original score (which was a soundscape made in collaboration between Noé and Thomas Bangalter’s of Daft Punk fame) from Sydney-based Filipina-Australian electronic music producer Corin.

The Fantastic Film Festival Australia runs from 17 April to 10 May 2024.

Silvi Vann-Wall is a journalist, podcaster, and filmmaker. They joined ScreenHub as Film Content Lead in 2022. Twitter: @SilviReports